North Korea convicted two American journalists and sentenced them Monday to 12 years of hard labor for crossing into its territory, intensifying the reclusive nation's confrontation with the United States.
The Obama administration said it would pursue "all possible channels" to win the release of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, reporters for former Vice President Al Gore's San Francisco-based Current TV media venture.
The good news, if there is any, is that the two journalists, Ling and Lee, are likely to be put through the nightmare incarcenation scenario we all fear. The North Koreans understand that once they are released these two will tell their tale, and the North Koreans don't want to be seen as the vicious human rights abusers they are. So, it's likely they are not in a concentration camp but rather a prison where they are treated reasonably well.
They are also likely not to ever serve anywhere near twelve years they have been sentenced to. Such an action would make the reporters the center of all negotiations between themselves and every country, China included.
Rather, the North Koreans are likely holding them in order to extort something of value from the rest of the world. This is the Modus Operandi of not only the North Koreans but despotic regimes all over the place. This sort of extortion is part and parcel of despotic regimes going back years and years.
The North Koreans are likely using the two reporters in order to negotiate while they agree to halt this sort of kidnapping or halt something else they have no intention of stopping. That's another thing the North Koreans have done for years. They have been able to negotiate concessions from the rest of the world, for instance they've been removed from the State Dept. state sponsors of terror, while they continue to violate their own end of any and all agreements.
Unfortunately, Ling and Lee are now pawns in the latest reincarnation of this dance they have played for a long time. The reason this continues to happen is that they never face any real punishment for any of this extortion and often they are rewarded.